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DSEA president weighs in on Delaware's education debates


State officials and lawmakers have spent significant time and energy addressing education issues this year.

Skirmishes over topics like Priority Schools, charter schools and allowing parents top opt-out their kids out of the new Smarter Balanced student assessment have been contentious - and in some cases remain unresolved.

Delaware State Education Association president Frederika Jenner says it’s important to debate these issues, though the head of state’s largest teacher’s union she admits worrying about the tone these debates have taken.

It’s a very different landscape than 5 years ago when Delaware was awarded one of the first federal Race to the Top grants in part because its education plans had buy-in from key players, including DSEA.

On this week’s edition of The Green, Jenner discussed the growing discontent among teachers, administrations and parents -- and why the goodwill seen five years ago has dissolved.

I don’t know if it’s dissolved," said Jenner.  "I think some people have come to the realization that if you’re really going to work in a collaborative way, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  And it really takes a very long time, a significant amount of time to get things done right rather than just get them done."

Jenner adds a comprehensive examination of how schools are funded in Delaware could help resolve many of the issues being debated.

We certainly have pockets of students, such as English Language Learners, special education students, and students who fund themselves living in poverty whose needs are greater," said Jenner  "And we need to look at idea of weighted student funding, so that rather than money being shared equally, it’s shared equitably.”

Jenner concedes having such a discussion will be difficult, calling education funding a “third rail” issue. 

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.